Having spent a great deal of my formative years and part of my adulthood in Nova Scotia, Canada, I consider myself to be from Nova Scotia, even though I was born on Prince Edward Island. I am an Airforce Brat, and the ex-wife of a Canadian Serviceman, which means I have lived in many places in my life . . . but Nova Scotia is where my heart and allegiance lay.
Nova Scotia cannot lay claim to this recipe, for it belongs to all of the maritime provinces . . . with their rich maritime history and ties to the fisheries, but I do believe that Nova Scotia and Newfoundland are probably the at the very root of it's deliciousness . . . being that the fishing was their prime industry for many, many years.
This is a hearty soup you will find on the menu at any good restaurant in the Atlantic provinces. It's simple and it's not hard to make. There are probably as many different versions of this as there are good cooks.
The basics would all be the same however . . . good fish . . . (cod in most cases and often haddock) . . . potatoes . . . onions . . . celery . . . carrots . . . bacon . . . and milk and cream. Ohh . . . and a nice big knob of butter. It is the perfect example maritime thrift and the skill of a good cook to make a few simple ingredients stretch into a delicious feast of plenty. It makes a small bit of fish go a very long way.
If it has any other fish or shell fish in it . . . it's not fish chowder. It's seafood chowder . . . a completely different kettle of fish entirely. I flavour mine with summer savory (a maritime herb) and a bay leaf, along with plenty of seasoning. If you can't find summer savoury, a mix of thyme and marjoram will workin it's place.
I like to save some of the crisp bacon to sprinkle on top of each serving, along with some chopped fresh parsley for looks. Crisp soda crackers, or soft rolls or buttered white bread to go along is a must, and if they are homemade . . . well . . . so much the better.
*Creamy Fish Chowder*
Restaurants all over the maritime provinces in Canada usually each have their own version of this delicious hot soup, and they have remained a favourite of customers for years. What makes a chowder a chowder? I think it’s the rich flavours of the bacon and the milk, but you decide.
1 pound cod fish fillets
2 ounces streaky bacon, diced
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
½ cup celery, diced (1 stick)
2 cups peeled and diced raw potatoes(1 large baking potatoe)
½ cup peeled and diced carrots (1 medium carrot)
2 cups boiling water (450ml)
½ tsp summer savoury
1 bay leaf
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup milk (120ml)
½ cup cream (120ml)
Large knob of butter
Take a large saucepan and heat it over medium high heat. Add the bacon and fry until crisp. Sauté the onion in the rendered bacon fat until just soft, then add the celery, potatoes and carrots. Stir them around in the fat with the onions for a few minutes then add the boiling water. Add the fish, summer savoury, bay leaf and some salt and pepper. Let it come just to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the fish flakes easily.
Remove the bay leaf and add the milk and the cream. Heat until very hot, but do not allow to boil. Add the knob of butter and serve in heated bowls with soft slices of fresh homemade white bread and butter, or with crisp buttery toast or crackers if you prefer!